Basis for UCPD Raid Remains Unclear

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Two days after UCPD and members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force raided a community cooperative where social activists often gather, community members say they are still in the dark as to why the officers seized dozens of computers and data storage devices believed to be the source of threatening e-mails.

Campus officials said that "more than a few" threatening e-mails were sent from the Long Haul Infoshop to UC Berkeley faculty and staff, leading the campus to seek a search warrant for various data storage devices at the shop.

While threatening e-mails to the campus are generally not that common, most of the recent ones are about "hot-button issues" like the tree-sit and animal research, said campus spokesperson Robert Sanders.

Though Sanders would not say how long this particular series of e-mails has been going on, he said it "usually takes more than a week to get a warrant."

Campus officials said e-mails are considered threatening when they make a threat of physical harm, loss or damage.

"These are people that are doing part of their job," Sanders said. "These e-mails could potentially be harmful."

Officials remain tight-lipped about what the threatening e-mails are about as to not compromise the ongoing investigation.

According to Assistant Police Chief Mitch Celaya, UCPD, the main investigators of the threatening e-mails have been working with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force on the case.

The shop provides free Internet to community members as well as meeting space for local liberal groups like Food Not Bombs and the Anarchist Study Group.

Police confiscated 15 computers and various flash memory drives, memory cards and CDs. Nearly all of the items, except some used exclusively by shop volunteers, had been designated for public use.

Celaya said it is not yet known whether the e-mails were sent by an individual or by a group.

Kathryn Miller, a manager for the shop, received a call from her landlord shortly before 10:30 a.m. when he informed her that police had entered the building.

Miller said the shop is a public access Internet room that does not keep track of who uses the computers.

Civil rights attorney Jim Chanin, whose office is located one block from the shop, was summoned to the scene by supporters as officers searched the shop.

According to Chanin, employees of the shop were given the part of the search warrant saying the police were seizing, but not the part the affidavit that explains under what grounds the equipment was seized. Chanin said the space for the warrant number was left blank.

Celaya said that the investigation could take a long time to conclude.

"The search warrant was one of the first parts of trying to figure out who is responsible," he said.


Ashley Trott covers crime. Contact her at [email protected]

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